He’s Here!

 

Baby R1

And baby makes 4. Baby brother arrived this week just one day after his due date, and we are over the moon that he is finally here!

Labor was much quicker and easier this time around. After a 17-hour labor with W, less than 8 hours with baby boy felt like a dream. We got to the hospital in the middle of the night, I was already 8cm, was whisked up to the delivery room, and a little later I pushed for 15 minutes and he was out! Not to say it didn’t hurt, but I had so much more energy this time around and knew what to expect.

Giving birth during a pandemic was a little different. Options for pain meds were limited. I was able to use just nitrous oxide for pain management the first time around, but for this birth the hospital said it was epidural or nothing due to Covid risk. I opted for nothing, especially when the anesthesiologist introduced herself as the “student anesthesiologist”. Hell no. We were hoping to bring our doula in (zachthedoula.com) but because of the 1 support person rule, he couldn’t come to the hospital with us but helped me labor at home.

Baby boy came out alert and healthy. My recovery has been easy, and I feel almost back to my old self after just a few days. He was back to his birth weight by day 3, so high-fives all around!

W has completely embraced her role as big sister. She calls R “my baby!” and holds him every second she gets. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, though, because she still has those big toddler emotions to process and has been taking it out on Mom and Dad. We are trying to find our routine and new normal, but we are tired. Up all day with a toddler, up all night with a newborn.

This whole 2 kids thing is no joke. At least everything we need is always within arms reach on the boat! I do feel like we are just doing tiny living and not liveaboard life because we haven’t used the boat for her intended purpose since July. This season of life is so fleeting, though, and soon our tiny newborn days will be over forever. Trying to find moments to embrace the here and now of this stage and freeze the memories.

Wishing our families and friends could be here with us to celebrate the new arrival. Thank you, everyone, for your love and support.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and R

baby R2
Bringing baby home

Stayed for a Tropical Storm, Rode Out a Hurricane

In other words, whoops!

TS Isaias was forecasted to stay a tropical storm, then it became a hurricane, dropped back down to tropical storm, became a hurricane again, was supposed to hit South Carolina first, ended up making landfall in North Carolina, and skirted past the New River (a little too close for comfort) as a Category 1. It just goes to show how annoyingly unpredictable these weather systems are.

We made the decision to ride out the tropical storm on the boat this time. After evacuating twice in the last two years, I decided that there was no way the odds would land another hurricane on North Carolina three years in a row. HA. Thanks, climate change.

The last week had been dedicated to preparing for hurricane season anyway. We took down our headsail, put the dinghy up on dry-dock, went through our checklist, etc. The only inconvenience for Isaias was taking down the bimini and putting out extra storm lines/snubbers.

Our decision to stay was based on a few factors:

  1. The storm was very fast-moving and would be past us within 4 hours.
  2. It hit us in the middle of the night (W actually slept through it all!)
  3. Story Time had proven herself the past two years riding out Florence and Dorian with zero issues.
  4. Our marina is in a good hurricane hole.
  5. Other liveaboards stayed as well and would have been able to help in an emergency.

It was quite the experience to ride out Isaias onboard. We definitely won’t stay for another hurricane, but I think we made a good choice based on the information we had at the time. By the time we knew it would stay a hurricane, we had already committed to remaining onboard. The scariest part was the NOISE. The wind was howling. Apparently, we had a lot of side to side movement (our neighbor said Story Time’s mast looked like a metronome) but down below it didn’t feel too bad. It was reassuring to remember that our 4’10” keel helped our boat do exactly as it was made to do. Our boat felt incredibly secure riding the storm—completely watertight, leaning into the elements, and safe inside a well-proven slip.

The eye passed by us at 3am and I finally fell asleep. No damage in the morning, except base lost power until around 1pm. A tree fell in the marina parking lot, but miraculously missed any cars or power lines. Very little storm surge because Isaias went by so fast. I’m just glad I didn’t have a hurricane/pandemic baby! Looks like he is content to stay put a while longer.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and Baby

How do you fit TWO kids on a boat?

People thought we were crazy the first time around. Now that we are just weeks away from adding a second, everyone has asked, “Where are you going to put him?”

What they don’t realize is that everything we already have for W, we would need for baby brother anyway. W took over the whole v berth with books, toys, crib, etc. The changing pad still hasn’t moved from its spot on the navigation center and the stroller resides in the dock box. Playdough, arts and crafts, and snack cups surround the settee. To prep for baby brother, all we needed to do was install the infant car seat, pull out the Lillebaby carrier from storage, find room in the v berth closet for newborn clothes, and put the bassinet by my bed.

The biggest hurdle, however, was where he was going to sleep once he outgrew the bassinet, as W still uses her own crib strapped to the v berth.

A lot of cruising families split the v berth for their kids with lee cloth. Technically, that mattress splits into two twin beds. This is a great plan for older kids, but not ideal for an infant and a toddler. W didn’t sleep through the night until 20 months old, so I didn’t want baby brother following the same pattern and disrupting everyone’s rest.

We couldn’t have him out in the main cabin, so that left our aft bedroom. With our low ceiling, finding room for a safe sleep space proved difficult. Then, we decided to get creative and had a custom mini crib made!

Through word of mouth, I got in contact with an amazing woodworker named Anthony Blinson on Emerald Isle. I sent him measurements for the space above our engine block and the requirements for the project—easily collapsible with side-door access. He had free reign for the rest of the design and came back with the most INCREDIBLE boat baby crib!

Here it is at the woodshop (@Tonyswoodshop514):

crib1

Here it is on the boat:

crib2

crib3

crib4

We’ve ordered furniture anchors to secure it to the wall. The crib has just 8 bolts (4 on each side) that unscrew with an allen wrench to dismantle it. The bottom is on a hinge that folds flat. When we need to run the engine, the crib can be disassembled in less than 5 minutes and moved out of the way. It is truly a gorgeous and functional piece of furniture. If you have any woodworking needs for your boat, I highly recommend Anthony’s services, as he envisions and engineers to his customer’s unique needs.

I love that we will be able to keep baby brother in our room for at least the first year, as recommended by AAP guidelines. I love that W keeps her own room (mostly) through this new sibling transition. I love that in the evenings, the v berth and aft cabin doors will close, leaving Conor and I able to cook dinner and watch TV in our own space like adults!

Not to say that there won’t be challenges in the coming months but solving our sleep space problem is a huge weight off. Now, we just sit back and wait for him to show up!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and Baby

Reflections On Turning 30

If you had told me at 20 where I would be by 30, I would have laughed at you and said you got the wrong girl. I had aspirations of working in federal law enforcement, and though I hoped to be married, I had no plans for kids until after 30. I thought yoga was just a boring way to stretch. A part of me thought I would be a cheerleader forever. Grades mattered more than experience. I was afraid of breaking any rules. I cared a lot about what other people thought of me. I tried to do everything the ‘right’ way.

Who is this woman? Mother of two. Twice-published author. Lives on a SAILBOAT?

Over the past 10 years, this person has moved from the Northwest, to the Midwest, to the California coast, and all the way to North Carolina, meeting and connecting with people from all walks of life. She has survived and thrived through her husband’s multiple (and sometimes back-to-back) deployments. She learned what the terms ectopic, missed miscarriage, and recurrent loss meant all too well. She was rejected 237 times trying to make writing her career. She decided not to be afraid anymore and to redefine what’s normal. She discovered that happiness could be packed into 38 feet, with her husband and children within arms reach, on an adventure together.

This decade did not happen how I thought it would go. Honestly, how boring would it have been if it had? Instead, it was such a transformative journey that forced me to examine my own expectations, and more importantly, challenged me question why. This process of self-discovery led me in a completely different direction than the path I picked out for myself. Though at times it was uncomfortable and even painful, I am forever grateful to have gone through it, especially now instead of thirty years from now. This process of understanding my truest self will be ongoing throughout my life and ever-changing.

The only thing scarier than change is everything staying the same. I am going to embrace turning 30 tomorrow, thankful that it will give me new opportunities to grow. Who knows what is in store? I want to show my kids the world. I want to actually make some decent money with this writing gig. I want to tell my adventure buddy that I love him every day. I can’t wait to see what this next decade will bring, but with the understanding that although I cannot control the wind, I can adjust my sails. Cheers (& beers, when I can drink again!) to 30 years.

Love,

Taylor

turning 30

Well, We Did Stay at Home!

Technically 🙂

We spent the weekend away from the docks and anchored out overnight with Minoh. 12 mph winds, clear skies, and 75 degrees—it felt like a dream! We anchored across from a private beach and made good use of our dinghy.

anchorminoh

 

 

anchoroutdinghy

 

 

 

In the past, Conor has usually been so busy with work in the spring that we don’t start getting into our sailing groove until Memorial Day weekend. Thanks to the quarantine and his recent work-from-home schedule, we were able to get Story Time into shape much faster this year and get out onto the water by April. It has been an absolute joy to take advantage of the warmer weather before the humidity hits. Good thing too because our sailing window is also going to end much earlier this summer.  We are adding another crew member! Baby #2 is arriving in August.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

babybump
Baby’s current interests include dock yoga and kicking the crap out of me.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, W, and Baby

End of Quarantine

We reached the end of our quarantine period on Saturday! No COVID-19 for us. We celebrated by finally taking the boat out for the first time this spring. Our last sail was in November, so Story Time had four loooonnngggg months stuck at the dock.

A great aspect about boating is that it is social distancing at its finest! I think boat owners naturally seek isolation, solitude, and quiet out on the water. It is the perfect activity especially when everything around us is closed. Our engine fired right up, all systems still worked, and we dropped anchor for a few hours across the river.

socialdistance
Looking for crab pots

As this pandemic drags on, we feel lucky that we can still do what we love as a family. We are thankful to all be together, happy and healthy. Wishing everyone we know the same fortune.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Covid Closeness

Here’s what you guys have missed—W and I were up in Seattle for the month of March. I know right now you’re thinking, WTF why would they go to the center of a pandemic? But keep in mind, when we left during the first week of March, there were only 5 known Covid cases in Washington state. Nothing had been shut down and we had no idea how bad things were going to get. Conor was slated as an augment instructor in Yuma until the end of April. It seemed like the perfect time to visit family, who we hadn’t seen since last spring.

Then shit hit the fan.

Suffice to say, it was not the vacation we had planned. We quarantined in my parents’ house and at my in-law’s farm for the duration of the visit. Lots of great time with grandparents, but each day that ticked by left me wondering if we were going to be stuck in the northwest indefinitely. When Conor’s assignment ended early, it felt like a “now or never” situation to try to get back home. I also needed to be back here in April for a very important medical appointment. After rescheduling flights five times, W and I flew back together to meet up with Conor in NC. It was a hard decision to make, but military orders changing last-minute qualified as “necessary travel”. I’ve never seen the airports so eerily empty.

We are currently in the middle of a 14-day self-imposed quarantine on our boat. We all feel great (no fevers or cough!) so fingers crossed it stays that way. It is just a precaution to make sure we don’t accidentally spread the virus if we are asymptomatic carriers. We report to the duty corpsman every morning with a temperature/symptom check and even have our own separate bathroom at the marina.

We aren’t going stir-crazy yet and are using this time to get Story Time ready for the sailing season! Right now, we are replacing the lifeline netting and doing brightwork. It felt good to strip that nasty old net off, but now the boat looks so naked!

oldnet
SO GROSS. Time for a new one after 3 years

 

nakedboat
Naked Story Time!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Flying the Yellow Jack

We want to be cruisers so we can unplug from everyday life. The ultimate goal is to take our boat and go off the grid for weeks at a time, exploring uninhabited islands and leaving the “real world” behind. With all the COVID-19 insanity these past few weeks, it has made me wonder—will we ever be able to truly go offline? Is it dangerous to remain completely in the dark? How much of a break is good for mental health, versus safety and preparedness in the long run?

The virus situation escalated within weeks. I’ve seen news stories about couples on backpacking or hiking retreats returning home after a month to this shitstorm. It has to be like a bad dream. Living it IS a bad dream, but less of a shock after watching the pandemic develop. I’ve been wondering about all the cruisers out there who have just completed a long passage and are returning to find every port is closed!

When prepping for a passage, food is carefully prepared and rationed. There is garbage to be considered, water storage, and fuel. While sailors try to plan for delays or alternative stops, I can bet none of them saw this coming. How frightening to be low on food, fuel, and water but denied entry to restock. I don’t blame countries for trying to protect themselves, but these boaters are stuck in a terrible situation and I can’t help but worry. What would we do in their place? We have a hurricane plan, we know what to do if something breaks on our boat, but we have no pandemic plan. Honestly, I never thought we would need one!

Entering a port with a yellow flag flying has just been a courtesy for the last 100 years or so. It tells people ashore that all passengers and crew aboard are healthy and not bringing any diseases into the area. In the past, if a ship was quarantined, they flew a checked yellow and black flag called the Yellow Jack. Once the quarantine was up and the ship deemed safe, they were allowed to fly a solid yellow flag again. It is crazy to think that these flags now serve a real purpose again in this day and age, rather than as tradition.

This will be one more scenario to consider when we prepare to leave North Carolina. If any experienced cruisers have advice or resources to share, please do so. We are one hundred percent certain that we are on the right path, but it is also our responsibility as parents to adventure SAFELY.

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

Caribbean Dreamin’

Over this howling northern wind, I can hear it calling to me. It is currently 35 degrees out but in my head I am lying on a beach in front of crystal blue water…

 

IMG_0903
Throwback to our 2015 vacation in the DR

My imagination has been running away from me lately. Conor and I are having a blast playing the “what-if” game and researching tons of marinas down in the Caribbean. It has started to sink in that by this time next year, we will be GONE! It is both exciting and terrifying as we try to get our rears in gear. Not only are we leaving the country, but the active duty “security blanket” as well. Here is our marina wishlist so far:

  • U.S. territory so work visas will not be an issue that first year
  • marina security
  • pumpout service
  • reasonable liveaboard prices+pets allowed
  • good diving opportunities
  • centrally located
  • great daysailing to other islands
  • dock amenities like storage and laundry

The biggest shock during our research has been the prices! I know we’ve had it pretty good at Gottschalk with $5 per foot per month, but most places down in the islands are $20 per foot per month. Ouch! But in some cases, the amenities are totally worth it. Here is our top contender right now on St. Croix USVI: http://www.tamarindreefresort.com/marina-en.html

I mean, come on! It would be a dream to stay there, we just have to find a way to make it happen. Good thing we still have 11 months to plan! We are prowling cruisers forums for other recommendations for a home base next year. If you have a marina you’d recommend, please reach out and let us know!

Love,

Taylor, Conor, and W

2019 Recap Video

This is our third recap video! Check out 2017 and 2018 if you need a blast from the past before watching 2019!

So much has happened this year—Conor took a trip to Norway and also graduated from WTI. I published my second book and wrote a third. W is speaking in complete sentences and scooter-ing down the docks like a madwoman. I can’t believe we have a 2-year-old!

This year was also filled with visits from family and friends, epic sails and sunsets, and (probably) too many cocktails.

Here’s the wrap up! The accompanying song is “Wars” by the Strumbellas (thanks for a great time, Nashville!)